Originally published on Redfin Blog by Julia Weaver.
Since 2020, many of us all across the world transitioned to working from home because of the pandemic. We quickly adjusted, designating the bonus room as our office or creating a makeshift desk in the kitchen. Either way, you may have noticed the clutter that’s accumulated in your space, and it may be more of a distraction than you think. Your home office should be a neat and organized space where you can think clearly, not one that has a tendency to increase your stress levels.
Working from home can be convenient, comfortable, and productive – unless your office space at home is a disaster. To help you out, we’ve asked experts to share their best tips on how to get control of your clutter and improve organization.
Begin by organizing paper
Use sticky notes to label the categories as you sort; a pen to label the sticky notes; large empty boxes (one for recycling and one for shredding); and a table or other space that you can work on during the organizing process. Then follow these simple steps: 1) Gather all the paper. 2) Sort paper into broad categories. 3) Go through the broad categories a second time. 4) Further define the categories. 5) Create your file system. Be sure to wait until you’ve organized all of your papers before you purchase folders, bins, or a filing cabinet. I bet you’ll be surprised at how little you will need! – Living. Simplified.
Start each day with a clutter-free workspace
Since I work from home, I have intentionally created a minimalist cozy workspace that allows me to feel focused and empowered for my day. At the beginning and end of each workday, I take a moment to organize and clear my environment of paper clutter. I digitize, recycle, or file all paper clutter as necessary. – Beauty in the Now
Keep all your work in a dedicated space
Create a clear distinction between your personal and professional life by storing all of your work-related items in one space versus letting things spill all over the house. Use decorative boxes with lids and labels to store supplies, as well as easily portable containers for filing paperwork so they can be relocated or hidden away when needed. – Neat with Knight
Get organized in your digital and physical environment
It’s no secret that a clean desktop, both physical and digital, helps to be more organized and productive. We’d recommend up to 3 essential items on your desk; other stuff goes into your drawer, cabinet, or trash can. While an app like Unclutter for Mac can take good care of your digital files and notes. – Unclutter for Mac
Set up a paper management system
Clutter is one of the hardest areas to manage because it comes from all different areas; files, mail, work, and bills. Some you need to keep long-term, some you need to keep short-term, others you need to keep temporarily or deal with immediately. Sort mail as soon as it enters your home. Toss advertisements, junk mail into the recycling bin. Separate bills and highlight the due date. Locate any important paper in minutes by having an Important Document File strictly for Documents that are kept long term. File tax documents and paid bills separately for easy access at tax time. Rid yourself of visual and mental clutter. – Neat Life Design
Go paperless with technology
Use your bank’s online platform to pay your bills, and keep your records using a scanner like the Fujitsu si1300i and cloud-based storage like Evernote or OneNote. – Configuration Connection
Decide how you want your office space to feel & function
If your desk is the focal point, only display items that serve the purpose of your office, such as a laptop, pen and paper, and framed license, degree, or professional certification. When seated, face the door if possible. Choose furniture and accessories that exude quality, endurance and prosperity, colors and textures that uplift you, and of course, feature a thriving plant. – Karen LeMire
Get rid of all paper
It sounds radical, but when you seek to eliminate all paper from your office, you’re forced to assess whether the papers that you “think” are necessary to hold onto, are actually important. When I say get rid of all paper, I’m not talking about notebooks or sensitive materials that need to be filed away, but ALL the other paper that seems to appear out of nowhere (i.e. note scribbles, junk mail, receipts that you’ve already submitted for reimbursement, etc.). When you seek to get rid of all paper from your office, your desk space and surrounding areas are so much easier to keep tidy. – The Tidy Dad
Remove items from your desk that you do not use on a daily basis
Personal items (photographs, art, etc.) are important to have in your home office as a reminder of why you do the work that you do, but they don’t need to be interfering with your workspace. Moving them to other areas of your office where they can easily be seen allows them to be a source of encouragement and motivation, but not a source of distraction. – Nest Home Organizing
Incorporate vertical storage
When looking at ways to maximise the space in your home office, consider vertical storage options. This can include installing shelves above your desk or hanging a pinboard on the wall for post-it notes, to-do lists, and other reminders or inspiration, helping you to keep clutter on your desk to a minimum. – Buzz Home Office
Take 10 minutes at the end of each workday to clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces
Take short breaks every hour and be sure the first thing you do is declutter and organize items on your desk and floor that were moved out of place during the last hour. Keep a small duster and a combination eco-friendly disinfectant/all-purpose cleaner nearby on a shelf or cabinet in your office area. Doing these simple things will help you feel more comfortable, less distracted and minimize your exposure to harsh chemicals resulting in a more satisfied day. – GreenPro Cleaning